This past week, the entertainment world witnessed the conclusion of the most massive odyssey of over-the-hill talent since the Eagles staged their "Hell Freezes Over" tour. By all accounts, the finale of Derek Jeter's career was a success. Shortly after Jeter singled in the game-winning run in the ninth inning of his last game at Yankee Stadium, Pope Francis announced that this feat qualified as one of three miracles needed for official canonization of the fading shortstop as "Saint Derek."
It is anticipated that Jeter's feat of playing more than 2,700 major league games without being ejected will soon be recognized as a second miracle, leaving him only one shy of the sainthood already conferred upon him by the media, social media, and normally reticent fans of the New York Yankees. The year-long deification of one baseball player was carefully orchestrated by the team, which sacrificed its chances for customary post-season success by keeping Jeter in the everyday lineup and the vital #2 position in the batting order despite a level of performance which qualified him for the major league title in WBR (wins below replacement player).
The Jeter tour involved ostentatious ceremonies in every ballpark he visited for the last time. He was showered with praise and presents, and extolled for his manly virtues in addition to his former talents on the field. Pundits posed the premise that he was (A) the greatest shortstop ever; (B) the greatest Yankee ever; and/or (C) the greatest human being ever. This continuous adoration had been denied previous Bronx Bombers greats such as Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, who both announced their retirement after final subpar seasons; Babe Ruth, who was unceremoniously dumped after hitting just 22 home runs in 1934; and Lou Gehrig, who quit abruptly when stricken by a fatal disease.
A modest dress rehearsal for the Jeter tour was held the previous season, when Mariano Rivera experienced a similar succession of farewell ceremonies. The glorification was ramped up in 2014 for Jeter, and many media observers have been wondering how the Yankees could possibly build on the momentum of the back-to-back baseball bacchanals.
Thus there was little surprise last night when the Yankees announced plans for a third consecutive season-long opportunity for fans across the country to express their deeply felt feelings for a long-time Yankees celebrity. While Jeter was taking his final at-bat at Fenway Park, where he has often been forced to swallow his pride, Yankees vice-president Yogi Steinbrenner addressed the two New York newspaper men who lost a bet and were unable to make the trip to Boston.
"In 2015 we will be bringing back Alex Rodriguez to play shortstop," the announcement began. "It will be his final season in the majors, so we'll be putting together what we're calling the 'Good Riddance' tour. It will be our version of the popular show 'Let's Make a Deal.' Alex is all about making deals, whether it's with general managers, agents, commissioners, or steroids suppliers. As you know, we've made every effort to avoid going through with the rest of that ridiculous deal he made when he came here. Well, this is the deal we've made with him, if he wants to come back for one more year.
"Remember how on that show, you might win a car but you might also get stuck with a 'zonk'? Well, in each city Alex visits for the last time, he'll get zonked. Teams are invited to give him the tackiest, most worthless gifts they can concoct. The more offensive, the better. We're already working on plans for his Yankee Stadium finale. Our head groundskeeper is busy mapping out a 'GOOD RIDDANCE' design to be mowed into the outfield grass behind shortstop. I don't want to give away too much now, but we've begun negotiations with some guys over in Jersey on a 'contract' you'll have to see in person to believe.
"Each final stop on the road will begin with a press conference during which Alex will be bound and gagged and forced to every local smart-ass reporter tell him off. He'll be confined to the clubhouse during pre-game practice, so he can make a grand entrance during the ceremonies. We think the fans will enjoy those tremendously as each team tries to unveil the most offensive tribute of the tour. For instance, we've heard that the teams in Texas, where they like to 'do things bigger,' will be giving him a 20-foot-long syringe. We also expect that he'll be presented with bags and bags full of hate mail from fans in each city. We're urging fans to get their tickets now--they won't want to miss this unique event in baseball history."
Yogi Steinbrenner shared one more item with the snickering reporters. "In honor of Jeter's retirement," he said, "and in anticipation of A-Rod's return to the middle infield, we are giving the shortstop position from Yankee Stadium to Jeter. Henceforth, that part of the infield will be a 10'x15' hole in the ground, which we hope and anticipate A-Rod will be able to fill perfectly."
Reached around 3 AM en route from one girlfriend's Manhattan apartment to another's, Rodriguez acknowledged his legal obligations according to the latest revision of his latest deal. He promised to perform at a higher level than Jeter did in his swan song. "I'm guaranteeing at least six home runs and a .630 OPS, and I pledge to reach at least four ground balls hit to my left," he said, then laughed. "I'm kidding. It doesn't matter how I play. Just give me my money and I'll go away forever. Good riddance to you, too, Baseball."